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Charlotte Area

CMPD Chief Putney: Young People Involved In Violent Crime Feel Unsafe

Kerr Putney
Erin Keever
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney speaks on Charlotte Talks in this April 2019 file photo.

Much of Charlotte’s recent violent crime has involved young people who acquired guns because they felt unsafe, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney. 

"Anecdotally, that’s exactly some of the things we’re hearing, that they’re doing it for their own safety," said Putney, who spoke on Charlotte Talks on Tuesday morning. "And I can tell you, too, from our own experience looking at the data, some of those concerns for safety are exaggerated. They’re not as severe as some of the people believe. But again, your belief, your perspective, is your reality."

In addition to acquiring guns for safety, Putney said many also seek guns to protect their social reputation. He added that young people often are stealing these guns from homes and unlocked cars.

The CMPD chief said the best way to diffuse the types of minor disputes that have led to much of Charlotte’s violent crime was to invest in young community activists called " violence interrupters" who are trained to de-escalate and resolve minor conflicts that might lead to violent crime.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police presented a violent crime "hotspot" study to City Council on Jan. 6. The department said 25% of homicides last year resulted from an argument. Mayor Vi Lyles has called for City Council to take a data-driven approach to addressing the city's historic increase in violent crime.

Charlotte had 107 homicides in 2019.